Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

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Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby justsomeguy [OP] » January 21st 2011, 12:04am

Over the last few weeks I've been shopping around for an Astro or Safari and doing quite a bit of reading and research online, especially on this excellent forum! I decided it would be best to just start a new thread to let you know what I bought.

It's a 2005 Chevy Astro, rear wheel drive passenger. It was a tough choice deciding between the more practical passenger version or the sleek, windowless cargo van with the no-frills basic interior that I really like. But, after discovering the shortfalls of a two seater cargo van when I need to take both of my elderly parents somewhere, I decided a passenger van would be better. Plus, it gives me a few extra creature comforts, sound insulation and windows for better visibility. Sometimes that kind of stuff is nice to have. So, I went for a passenger van. Then I had to decide between the AWD or RWD. I really like AWD and 4WD vehicles, having owned and driven a few. Very nice in the winter. But they cost more to buy and there are more things to break. I'm not a mechanic, so I decided to keep it simpler and get RWD. There's only about 3 months where AWD would be nice, but I'll buy good quality winter tires for next year. The Goodyear Fortera Tripletreds this one has, although fairly new, have not been very good in snow or ice. Now I remember why I buy winter tires!

In the end, it came down to which van was in the best condition. Since you can't buy an Astro or Safari brand new anymore, we looked around for the best used example we could find, without spending too much. Ironically, cargo vans are now more expensive than passenger vans! As it is, I think we spent too much. I planned on spending $3k to $5K on an older, higher mileage van but my father insisted on paying the difference to get something as new and low mileage as possible without going over $10K. So, we got this 2005 Astro. It's got 104K kilometers (65K miles) and is super clean inside and out. Not a spec of rust anywhere except a spot on the underside of the hood. I took it in for oil spray rust proofing yesterday and they didn't see any other rust either, and actually commented on how nice it looked.

It's an ex-police van, but was only used to transport police officers. It never had decals, emergency lights or was ever used as a patrol unit. It seems to have been very well cared for in terms of maintenance. And because they used this van to transport police officers (not for emergency calls) I'm guessing it wasn't drive too hard. The interior is near perfect. The exterior is virtually flawless except for two small dents which should come out with the Paintless Dent Removal system. It was a well maintained fleet vehicle. It's got fairly new Goodyear Fortera Tripletred tires. Some people love them. I hate them. They have not proven to be very good on snow or ice over the last two days. Maybe I'm being a bit hasty, but I will probably use those for spring, summer and fall and get dedicated winter tires for next winter. Maybe even this winter, funds permitting. I've discussed this in more detail in the wheels section.

It appears to be a base model, although my insurance company listed it as an Astro LS Wagon. Then again, they've been known to make mistakes with trim levels in the past. Based on the fact that it has rear barn doors, steel wheels and no plastic body cladding (and it appears only two way adjustable front seats) with no rear heat or AC, I believe it's a base model. BTW, is it a lot of work to add rear heat and AC? It would be nice to have, but not essential.

The van seems to be in great shape. I got a fuel injection system flush/cleaning at the Chevy dealer, as well as an oil change. It's running pretty smooth, but in the next few months I'll get a tune up and transmission fluid/filter change to keep on top of maintenance. There was a slight chugging going up a steep hill, but apparently it's a flaw in the torque converter as certain speeds. Seems OK now, but I'll check next time I go up that steep hill at 80 kilometers/hr (50 miles/hr). Maybe I'm hearing things, but it sounds like something is dragging. There's a faint noise, almost like a ball of barbed wire dragging or brushing up against a moving part, but I can't see anything. Hopefully nothing to worry about. The brakes feel a bit soft. Might need to be bled, or might be just the way they are. It's been a while since I drove an Astro or Safari on a regular basis (driven a few RWD Astro/Safaris as company vehicles in the past and always liked the way they drive).

I'd love to add an ipod connection and satellite radio to the stock stereo (already started a thread on that in the appropriate forum). Darker tint on the back windows would be good. Maybe limo tint over the factory tinted windows! ;) Some nice chrome or aluminum wheels for the other 3 seasons would be nice too. And I have to change that wimpy horn! It's got some cheap wipers, so I'll get some better bracketless wipers. I already got Aquapel on the windshield. Love that stuff!

In future, I'll try to buy all GM parts, except for Moog for front suspension. I hear it's better than OEM parts. Not sure about doing any wild and crazy mods just yet. I still need to transport cargo and sometimes passengers. The Astro is bit tall for my mother. She had no trouble getting into my old Windstar cargo, but has to climb in and use the grab handles to pull herself in. Kind of funny, but she is quite elderly, so not that funny.

Anyways, here are some pics. They're not very good pics, with snow falling and the van being dirty. Next time it's good weather I'll clean it and take better pics with a nicer backdrop. For now, enjoy these pics! :
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2005 Astro RWD, Base model passenger, ex-cop van, rust free, cadet blue, X Code, Front A/C

Compustar Alarm/Starter, XM Sat. Bluetooth, TransCooler, blackout grille, orange turn signals, pop-open barn door windows, 4 note Cadillac horn. Otherwise stock.
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby 94 Van Guy » January 21st 2011, 12:10am

Very nice van with low miles. It should last a long time.

Good luck with your new Astro,

Keith
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby Black89cs » January 21st 2011, 12:36am

Nice. Another member of the blue van group too. :D
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby alexalexanders » January 21st 2011, 12:59am

Nice van! Hope you enjoy it!
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby slim724 » January 21st 2011, 3:17am

Nice van! Almost a twin to mine which is also a federal government vehicle, picked mine up with only 40k on the clock, real cheap
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby justsomeguy [OP] » January 21st 2011, 3:47am

Thanks everyone! Glad you like my van. I'm really enjoying it. If I could have bought it at the auction instead of from a dealer I could have paid less, but most auctions around here are only for registered dealers. Anyways, I'm happy we found one with reasonably low mileage (considering the year) and in such good condition - especially the lack of rust. A lot of the Astros and Safaris had higher mileage and/or were not as well maintained. For the nicer ones around here, you pay for it. I've seen some selling for even more. In some ways, I'm kind of glad my father convinced me go for a van as new as possible. On my own, I would have spent less like I did with my Windstar (which was an ex-post office van with about the same mileage but a lot rougher).

It's been a while since I drove an Astro or Safari. I've forgotten how much fun they are to drive! And that the turning radius is a bit wider! I love the color - it's been ages since I had a blue vehicle. It would have been really cool if the interior was blue as well, but it's gray. Anyways, at least it's super clean. It really looks like it's in the condition of a 1 or 2 year old vehicle with a lot less mileage. Very impressive considering it was a government fleet vehicle. So far, three days of driving and I don't notice anything significant wrong. Just a strange dragging noise, but it might be a brake shield. I think they did some brake work before I bought it. Happened to me before. In a week or two, it wears in. Hopefully that's all it is.

I just remembered something else I want to do: install a remote starter (possibly with an alarm). I've got power locks but no remote to unlock the doors. I have to use the key. Since there's no chip in the key (and hence, probably no security system to override), this should be a good vehicle to put in a remote starter with a remote door unlocking. I wonder if it's supposed to have a factory remote? Since it seems I have a base model 2005 Astro, is it possible it never came with a remote to unlock the doors? The dealer said he didn't get any keys with the van and had to get one made at the dealer using the VIN.
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Compustar Alarm/Starter, XM Sat. Bluetooth, TransCooler, blackout grille, orange turn signals, pop-open barn door windows, 4 note Cadillac horn. Otherwise stock.
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby redfury » January 21st 2011, 4:15am

Don't know about the key fob, but I'd almost assume that any newer van is going to have it, especially since you have the anti theft on the stock CD player.

We had remote start put in our Explorer this winter ( professionally ) and it ran us $279. Wasn't planning on spending quite that much, but it's a wonderful function to have. The remote is good for 1 mile, locks the doors when the vehicle is put into drive and unlocks them when you shut the key off. With 1 mile range, my wife can't start it from deep within the walmart she works at, but if she's near an overhead skylight, she can get it to send a signal to the truck.

Of course, with it having remote start, her mileage has gone down considerably...:(
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby slim724 » January 21st 2011, 4:32am

I assumed mine had a remote too, so I bought a remote and went to program it, and it didn't work, I didn't have the appropriate pins in my OBDII port to program it. Mine's a 99 yours is an 05 I would think programming is the same, you can check here: http://www.programyourremote.com/ and see if you have the appropriate pins in the OBDII plug

or you may be able to give your VIN to a dealership and they can probably tell you if it came with one
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby justsomeguy [OP] » January 21st 2011, 4:33am

Yeah, I'd be surprised if a 2005 didn't come with a key fob to unlock the doors. If it did, to replace them might approach the cost of an aftermarket remote starter which will come with key fobs. (I should call the parts department at the Chevy dealer tomorrow and ask). But, those aftermarket key fobs have a much larger range. I had a Compustar alarm with remote starter on another vehicle a few years ago. It supposedly had a 1 mile range. If there was a clear, unobstructed path, maybe. But it was definitely better range than the stock key fob.

If I want to go really high tech, I'd go with Viper. They have an alarm/remote starter that you can control from your iPhone (I have an iPhone). With that set up, I could be virtually anywhere in the world and be able to use the remote starter! ;) But, I might not go that fancy. A basic remote starter with remote unlocking for the doors will be fine. Alarms always tend to go off and give false alarms anyways, so I probably won't get an alarm. If I do, I'd shut off the shock sensor and just keep it to monitor if a door is opened. A starter kill would be a good idea for security too.

For sure, fuel economy will go down with a remote starter - I'd use it in the winter to warm up the van and in the summer to cool it down!
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Compustar Alarm/Starter, XM Sat. Bluetooth, TransCooler, blackout grille, orange turn signals, pop-open barn door windows, 4 note Cadillac horn. Otherwise stock.
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby justsomeguy [OP] » January 21st 2011, 4:38am

slim724 wrote:I assumed mine had a remote too, so I bought a remote and went to program it, and it didn't work, I didn't have the appropriate pins in my OBDII port to program it. Mine's a 99 yours is an 05 I would think programming is the same, you can check here: http://www.programyourremote.com/ and see if you have the appropriate pins in the OBDII plug

or you may be able to give your VIN to a dealership and they can probably tell you if it came with one


Thanks. I'll go to the Chevy dealer and let them run the VIN & let me know if it had a factory remote. I'm going there tomorrow anyways to get a spare key made. Who knows... since my van is a 2005, which I would assume came with a remote, but then again, if it's a base model it may not have been equipped with a remote. One way or another I'll have a remote - either a factory remote, or one that comes with an aftermarket remote starter and/or alarm.

Barring that, where's the OBDII plug in a 2005 Astro? I'm guessing under the steering column. Maybe I should check that link you gave me - the answer may be there! I should buy a Haynes repair manual for my van. Even though I'm not a real hands-on kind of guy, I do some of the more simple repair stuff.

Or... I could call or drop by the police department that owned the van and ask them if they remember if it had a remote. With any luck, it did have a remote and they still have it!

Edit: I clicked the link you gave me, and for a 2005 Astro it says:

There is no manual on board procedure to program a keyless remote to this vehicle. This vehicle requires special equipment be connected to the vehicle to program the remote.


I guess a GM dealer is the best resource for this if I can provide them with the VIN.
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby Mr_Bowtie » January 21st 2011, 5:03am

Sweet Van..........I am very jealous! :rockon:
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby slim724 » January 21st 2011, 5:50am

justsomeguy wrote:
slim724 wrote:I assumed mine had a remote too, so I bought a remote and went to program it, and it didn't work, I didn't have the appropriate pins in my OBDII port to program it. Mine's a 99 yours is an 05 I would think programming is the same, you can check here: http://www.programyourremote.com/ and see if you have the appropriate pins in the OBDII plug

or you may be able to give your VIN to a dealership and they can probably tell you if it came with one


Thanks. I'll go to the Chevy dealer and let them run the VIN & let me know if it had a factory remote. I'm going there tomorrow anyways to get a spare key made. Who knows... since my van is a 2005, which I would assume came with a remote, but then again, if it's a base model it may not have been equipped with a remote. One way or another I'll have a remote - either a factory remote, or one that comes with an aftermarket remote starter and/or alarm.

Barring that, where's the OBDII plug in a 2005 Astro? I'm guessing under the steering column. Maybe I should check that link you gave me - the answer may be there! I should buy a Haynes repair manual for my van. Even though I'm not a real hands-on kind of guy, I do some of the more simple repair stuff.

Or... I could call or drop by the police department that owned the van and ask them if they remember if it had a remote. With any luck, it did have a remote and they still have it!

Edit: I clicked the link you gave me, and for a 2005 Astro it says:

There is no manual on board procedure to program a keyless remote to this vehicle. This vehicle requires special equipment be connected to the vehicle to program the remote.


I guess a GM dealer is the best resource for this if I can provide them with the VIN.

Yep, the plug should be under the steering column. Also, don't forget that you have a government vehicle, which means it probably was a fleet package as far as options, and then they add any additional options they deem necessary
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby loopie » January 21st 2011, 6:47am

Nice ride 8-)

I also bought a van recently that enters me into the BlueVanGroup (but it only cost me $350 and is beat to s&@!..and it only has 213KM!) Runs and drives tho.

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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby chevymaher » January 21st 2011, 11:22am

loopie wrote:Nice ride 8-)

I also bought a van recently that enters me into the BlueVanGroup (but it only cost me $350 and is beat to s&@!..and it only has 213KM!) Runs and drives tho.

[ http://i795.photobucket.com/albums/yy236/loopiez/Safari%20van/185aea00.jpg ]
[ http://www.applause-tickets.com/images/blue-man-group.jpg ]

A little elbow grease and you be having that thing lookin like new.I like it.
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby Mr_Bowtie » January 21st 2011, 1:03pm

^$350......... :rockon:
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby Phantom » January 21st 2011, 2:17pm

justsomeguy wrote:
I just remembered something else I want to do: install a remote starter (possibly with an alarm). I've got power locks but no remote to unlock the doors. I have to use the key. Since there's no chip in the key (and hence, probably no security system to override), this should be a good vehicle to put in a remote starter with a remote door unlocking. I wonder if it's supposed to have a factory remote? Since it seems I have a base model 2005 Astro, is it possible it never came with a remote to unlock the doors? The dealer said he didn't get any keys with the van and had to get one made at the dealer using the VIN.

You can check this website and enter your VIN and it will give the RPO code Build of your van and you will see the code for the Remote Keyless Entry , it is a different style than the older vans

http://www.compnine.com/vid.php?vin=1gndm19w5xb126525

And for Remote start and security alarm Astroflex Astrostart is the best quality systems , there are several good decent systems available on the market but Astrostart is very reliable quality made , several styles to choose from with a
one mile range , LCD remote and more

http://www.astroflex.com/Products/Secur ... Start.aspx
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby justsomeguy [OP] » January 21st 2011, 3:35pm

loopie, that van looks great for $350! I see you're in Kamloops, so probably no troubles with rust. I spent some time in the Interior of BC (Kelowna) and despite the fact there's snow, rust doesn't seem to be a problem. That was the big concern for me. Looks like there's quite a few of us in the Blue Van Club now!

slim724, yeah I was thinking that because it's an ex-government vehicle that they might have bought it as a fleet package where they can deviate from options and trim levels that the general public can buy. And I think I know where the OBDII plug is now, I just need to know what pin configuration to check for to see if this van had (or could have) a factory remote. And if it doesn't, an aftermarket remote with a remote starter will be fine.

phantom, thanks for that link! I plugged in my VIN. I didn't see anything about a remote (unless I didn't know the specific lingo). I'll look through the list again in a bit more detail. Looks like some mention of fleet ordering there. Not sure if I should get excited, but it said:

There are 2 2005 VAN ASTRO vehicles (0.003%) matching your exact options list.


Thanks for that link! I'm going to look at it in more detail and try the VIN's on some other vehicles. Just in case you wanted to see the lowdown on my Astro, here it is:

http://www.compnine.com/vid.php?vin=1GNDM19X85B128551

Funny you mentioned the Astroflex Astrostart system. I stumbled across their website recently and actually had it bookmarked in my favorites. Nice to hear that they offer good quality systems. I actually hadn't heard of them until recently. I like the 1 mile range and LCD remote (2 way remote ideally). I'm goiign to check and see if there are any installers/dealers locally, because there's no way I'm installing something like that myself! :banana:
2005 Astro RWD, Base model passenger, ex-cop van, rust free, cadet blue, X Code, Front A/C

Compustar Alarm/Starter, XM Sat. Bluetooth, TransCooler, blackout grille, orange turn signals, pop-open barn door windows, 4 note Cadillac horn. Otherwise stock.
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby justsomeguy [OP] » January 22nd 2011, 4:31am

A quick update... after looking through the RPO build sheet, it looks like this is definitely a base model Astro (with special custom order fleet options), but with NO remote for keyless entry. I confirmed this when I went to the Chevy dealer today. The parts guy ran my VIN and confirmed that my van never had a factory remote key fob, nor are there any provisions to easily add one. That's OK. I want to get an aftermarket remote starter anyways, which can tap into my existing power locks and give me keyless entry using the key fob it comes with.

This van is a blast to drive. I love it! Even though I had to pay dearly to get a low mileage rust free van. Of all the vans I've owned, I'm liking this one the best.
2005 Astro RWD, Base model passenger, ex-cop van, rust free, cadet blue, X Code, Front A/C

Compustar Alarm/Starter, XM Sat. Bluetooth, TransCooler, blackout grille, orange turn signals, pop-open barn door windows, 4 note Cadillac horn. Otherwise stock.
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby 1297chevastro » January 22nd 2011, 4:37am

loopie i really like your wheels, those rim rings (forgot the real name) are getting harder to find especially looking like that.
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Re: Finally, pics and info on my new 2005 Astro

Postby slim724 » January 22nd 2011, 5:27am

[quote= Just in case you wanted to see the lowdown on my Astro, here it is: http://www.compnine.com/vid.php?vin=1GNDM19X85B128551 [/quote]

ours are pretty similar, and have a lot of the same options, here's my VIN breakdown:
http://www.compnine.com/vid.php?vin=1gndm19w5xb197286
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